Hey Everyone, my name is Neha Arora, Founder of Planet Abled, which is mainstreaming accessibility and inclusion in the tourism industry to make travel simple for travellers with disabilities. Planet Abled has offices in India, and Austria and we work with hospitality businesses globally to help them become accessible and inclusive.
I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity by the lovely Erica to participate in the Interledger Summit in Costa Rica. Though there is intersectionality involved with persons with disabilities and financial inclusion, I participated in the Interledger Summit with an open mind to learn and explore the possibilities of using ILP technology to impact the lives of travellers with disabilities globally.
I also wanted to know to what extent accessibility plays a role at Interledger and how open is the community towards being inclusive of persons with disabilities across all aspects of its development, implementation and user experience.
And I have only positive things to say from the experience. A lovely community with people from all over the world doing amazing things, changing the lives of the underrepresented, and always open to learning to get better and supporting each other.
Even though it was a packed conference it never felt for a moment overbearing. Time was just not enough, it just flew by.
Community - I felt so much warmth with everyone I met at the Summit. Passionate people from all over the world with diverse living experiences who support each other, have zero hierarchy and are open to learning and collaboration. It was amazing to meet and become friends with @artproctor @hforeman @jeremiahlee, @vineel Ayden, Roberto, Nyi Nyein, Stephanie Perrin and know about the amazing work they are doing in their unique ways to make this world a better place for everyone.
A special mention to @chrislarry for taking the time to talk to me at length. That conversation gave me a lot of aha moments on how at the current stage of the protocol we can use the technology at Planet Abled and still provide financial inclusion opportunities to travellers with disabilities globally.
Learning - The amazing startups implementing ILP in their companies, and listening to the high-impact stories, and use cases just expanded my intellectual horizons so much.
It put my brain truly in a power thinking mode for sure.
Not to miss the mindblowing Open Studio which showcased the creative bent to financial inclusion in unique ways.
Accessibility - I was impressed to see a sign language interpreter at the summit and catch up with Melissa. I had the freedom to ask questions at any instance about the accessibility of the protocol and instead of brushing the topic of access aside, everyone was to know as to how they could do better. I loved it when @sabineschaller showed enthusiasm to start accessibility work on the ILP. I have been to many conferences globally, this is the first time I experienced that openness.
Last but not least, the highlight was @ericahargreave who was my wingwoman for the summit. Glad to have made a friend for life.
Seamless Payments and Monetization - Having run my current business for a few years now, I understand the pain of cross-border payments. The ILP can make life of so many small business owners like me better. And I cannot wait to see that happen. As for Web monetization, and full disclosure, I learned of the term in detail only when I visited the Interledger website. And I am so fascinated and bumped by the multifold impact it can have in the lives of the underrepresented. It evens the playing field for all. Yes, it's still maturing but all good things take time, don't they?
Opportunity for Learning & Growing- I want to dive more and learn how ILP technology can be implemented in my work and community.
People with disabilities usually do not have as many financial opportunities due to inaccessibility and societal stigmas. I strongly believe that the ILP can change that and give an equitable opportunity to a disabled person, especially in emerging economies to use their intellect to create a better livelihood for themselves. I have opened a Pandora box for myself and disabled people from across the world. We can do so much with disabled people all over the world to make tourism accessible and compensate them equitably for their time and effort through ILP.
Support from Interledger - The grants and ambassadorship programs are amazing ways to support individuals and provide them the resources they need to experiment and play with their ideas using the ILP technology in their respective works. Due to the short time, I couldn't apply for the ambassadorship in its last call but I want to do that when it opens again.
Accessibility - The ILP still has some distance to cover in accessibility and I love the positivity I experienced to the idea of it. I would love to work with the Interledger team to help them make the technology, user interfaces, information and communication digitally accessible for disabled people to adapt it seamlessly.
I believe this technology has the power to offer livelihood opportunities to people with disabilities like never before.
I want to conceptualize and design some use cases and then test those MVPs with the community at a suitable test bed geography with supporting governance.
The design and MVP development will need a lot of resources, both human and financial, and I need to figure out where those will come from. But I am here for it!
Dive deeper into the protocol and with the help of the tech community and resources, attempt to build a solution that can be used to make tourism accessible for all by involving the community of disabled people.
Offer whatever support the Interledger team needs to work on the accessibility of the ILP to make it more inclusive of all types of users.
Apply for the ambassadorship as and when it opens again.
ILP needs to be accessible right at the design stage so that a person with any type of disability can benefit from it. This includes but is not limited to, code-level digital accessibility and making the front end of all the technology solutions built on the ILP also accessible.
I would like to understand more about the web monetization stage of the ILP. And brainstorm with experts on so many ideas I have in my mind and how to implement them. And then build that with the community together. Jeremiah was very kind to share a lot of resources with me when I wrote to him asking for help. And I will surely be bugging him more.
I was asked to apply for the ambassadorship but having not a deeper understanding of the protocol and short timeline I did not feel ready yet. I would like to change that and need your help to build an MVP of a solution that we can launch with the disabled community live in action.